All Fenced In

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

Finally, our garden is “Abby-proof!” I know she’s loved playing in the dirt all week (everyday we’ve found big holes filled with her toys), but that wasn’t going to bode well for our seedlings, so we built a nice little fence. I’m pretty happy with the results – it’s functional and charming!

Before we started, I assumed it would be another learn-as-you-go project, but apparently Ethan has some fence-building experience under his belt! So naturally, he took the lead and I happily played the role of his assistant.

We borrowed a post hole digger from my parents & Ethan did the hard, manual labor of digging through our clay-like soil. I’m amazed at how hard & thick the ground is here in Houston!

After digging four 24″ deep holes (one for each 4×4 fence post), we set them with quick-drying concrete. We used one 80 lb. bag for each fence post. That may sound like a lot, but the bags are pretty small – they just weigh a ton!

The best place to mix concrete was in our newly purchased wheelbarrow (we needed something to move all that dirt!) We found the quick-drying concrete to be super easy – just add water and mix. But you have to move fast – there’s good reason they call it “Quikrete.” We only mixed one bag at a time to avoid a wheelbarrow full of set (hard) concrete, and rinsed our tools after each mix. (They’re just as functional covered in a thin layer of concrete, but who really wants that?)

After mixing, Ethan shoveled concrete into the hole while I moved the post around to work it in. Every 6-9″ of depth, we checked that the post was level & repositioned it as needed. Once the hole was filled to the top, we knew there wouldn’t much wiggle room, so intermittent adjustments were key!

Once we had the two end posts set, Ethan tied a string between them to ensure the two middle posts would be in line. This seemed like a genius idea to me. The last thing I wanted was a crooked fence! How does he know these things?? (In case you’re wondering, I asked. His response? “This is how you build a fence.” Ok boss.)

So we cemented two more posts in the ground and let them set overnight. Piece of cake – bring on the fence panels!

We chose to use pre-fabricated fence panels for two reasons. One – I liked the look of the gothic pickets (apparently I’m on a gothic kick – remember my chairs?) Reason #2 – We figured pre-fab panels would make the fence-building proces faster & easier.

In theory, that should have been the case. However, we didn’t take into account that our standards of “level” and “square” would be considerably higher than those of the people who built the panels. What can I say? Ethan and I are both perfectionists when it comes to this sort of thing. But we got over it and got to work.

We cut both fence panels down to size (and held onto the extras for our gate), got them as level as possible, and screwed the panels into our very level posts. So far so good!

Now for building that gate. Since the pickets were attached to pieces of 2×3 pine, we constructed the frame of our gate from the same size wood. Ethan built the box with the help of some metal L-brackets and added a cross-member for support. Then we took the leftover pickets from our trimmed-down panels and evenly spaced them on the gate frame. They’re don’t match the panels perfectly, but it’s pretty darn close.

Finally, we hung the gate with a couple of fence hinges, slapped on the closure hardware, and voila – a fenced in garden!

The last thing we had to do was trim down those incredibly tall fence posts (you didn’t really think they were staying, did you?) Ethan & I discussed cutting them before they went in the ground, but decided cutting was the best way to make sure all 4 posts were the same height. We didn’t have the right saw to cut the two far posts, but we’ll take care of it real soon.

So here’s our completed garden – what do you think?

One last thing. I’m thinking the fence needs to be painted (white? black? charcoal grey?) or stained (if it will take evenly to the wood) to give the whole thing a finished look. That’s in addition to planting beds (in the distant future) to soften up the fence.

Any thoughts? Paint, stain, or leave it alone?

7 Responses to “All Fenced In”

  1. Leave them as is. In 6 months or so they will develop the same silver/gray coloring as the rest of the back yard fence

  2. The idea of doing less work is starting to sound nice… :)

  3. The 2×3’s are not pressure treated, so the coat is to act more as a sealer.

  4. I say leave them too. The rest of the fences aren’t painted. If you’re worried about rotting you can always put a clear sealant on them, but I don’t know if that might preserve their new wood color too?

  5. I vote for leaving them alone. They’ll weather and look like the rest of your fence. Plus, there are more projects awaiting you inside! :)


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